A stunning medieval castle and a tale of ghosts . . .
Frangokastello looks very much today as it did when it was built in 1371. In this area of south western Crete live a race of people called the Sphakiots. They are strong and brave and fear no man. They can be a severe problem to people who come to conquer them, as did the Venetians. So the castle was built here by the sea on a small plain under the White Mountains of Sphakia. Then . . . well, nothing happened. The Venetian soldiers stayed in and around the castle and the Sphakiots stayed clear of them.
But let us get on to the ghosts that still appear here, it is said. They are called the Drosoulites, the men of the dew, in English. The legend tells us that they appear on just one day a year at early dawn. A day in late May when it is damp and windless, they walk in single file through the castle and down into the sea. I have spoken to people who say that they have seen them, but they have never been photographed.
Some say that they are the hallowed ghosts of the men of Hadzi Michalis Dalianis who stood here in the castle with his 600 men in 1878 against the Turks. Eight thousand turkish soldiers were sent to deal with them.
Others say that the ghosts are simply a mirage of Libyan soldiers from across the Mediterannean, but nobody really knows. However Frangokastello keeps on being one of the most perfect 600 year old castles you will ever find.
This week it has been really hot – with high humidity. The kind of days you just want to sit inside with the aircon on and catch up with your reading. So tonight’s sunset looks just as it should. A great ball of fire.
This picture was taken just minutes before the sun set. To me this just sums up the weird weather we are having. The cooling north western Meltemi wind seems to have disappeared and the wind just pours down from above the black sea giving us a share of Russia’s heatwave. Apart from this last week or so, the summer has been cool and according to long range forecasters we are heading for another cold winter. So there you have it, but the good news is that temperatures will be falling towards and beyond Sunday and the Meltemi will be back in force.
Here in Greece the recession is biting, in Crete the tourist numbers have dropped. Many people have lost their jobs. So what does a Cretan do? They dance.
Last weekend the people of Crete got together along the 200 Kilometres of National Road that stretches the length of the island, and they danced. Just like that. It cost nothing and people felt better. Now the Guinness Book of Records has accepted this dance as the world’s longest dance, so we may even be famous.
Here’s a movie of the dance:
In a way this reminds me of Zorba, from the book by Katzanzakis who was born here in Crete.
Here is the quote: “It was the dancing. When my little boy Dimitri died…and everybody was crying… Me, I got up and I danced. They said, “Zorba is mad.” But it was the dancing — only the dancing that stopped the pain.”